I remember the days when I would see a really beautiful woman, let’s a say a 10 out of 10, go up to her and try to start a conversation with her. I would say, “Hi, how are you?” She’d reply, “fine.” I’d say, what’s your name, she’d say, “Anna.” I’d be like, “what are you doing?” She’d be like, “nothing.” I’d get stuck and get the message. This girl doesn’t want to talk. She either doesn’t want to talk because she’s already seeing someone, or because she’s so used to guys trying to talk to her that she’s just sick of it. I’d walk away and say to myself, “The guy she’s with is a lucky bastard.” Why? Well, because she’s not letting anyone try. She’s shutting men down before things ever get rolling. That’s what guys like, that’s not what guys often get.
Let’s assume that boundaries in relationships are about not sleeping with other people. Well, that’s relatively easy to do right? You just don’t go there and kapeesh? Truth be told, that’s not how things go wrong in real life. A husband doesn’t stray simply by seeing another woman and deciding that he is going to sleep with her. More often than not, he strays when he decides a woman is safe to hang out with, finds himself attracted to her having established an emotional bond with her, and then finds himself sleeping with her. More often than not, a wife strays with her or her husband’s best friend. Usually it is someone she trusts. She wouldn’t allow someone she mistrusts near her to begin with. It’s someone she has an emotional connection with and who she is emotionally vulnerable to. It’s a bit harder for a woman to just open her legs to just anyone, and so it’s usually not just anyone.
I have spoken to countless women throughout my life who ended up leaving their husbands for their friends. Recently, a few celebrities left their husbands for their ex’s or their friends. That’s a common pattern and it is like that for a reason. It’s the back burner policy of insecure women. Women who don’t want to shut one door when they open another door. In other words, they aren’t ever really with anyone because they are with everyone- emotionally. Men know this and that’s why they never want their wives to keep in touch with their ex’s because they know that a woman is always emotionally vulnerable to someone she has been sleeping with. Some women, however, simply never really break up with anyone they break up with and as a result are never with anyone they are with. Then when the guy goes nuts because he senses that, he is pegged as being possessive.
The fact is that cheating doesn’t start with someone sleeping with someone else. It starts with someone becoming emotionally vulnerable to someone else and developing a friendship. It starts when we invest emotionally in an intimate way other than our spouses. We cross the line when we foster another relationship that has intimate undertones and when that relationship ends we feel a sense of withdrawal and loss. We cross the line when we feel we need to depend on others for our intimate emotional needs and find ourselves distancing ourselves emotionally from our spouses. There are books written about the subject of emotional infidelity because that’s where the trouble starts. It starts with people not knowing how to properly guard themselves in the interest of their exclusive relationships or marriages.
The facts are simple. If you value your relationship with your significant other, you must put that relationship first. If you want that relationship to last you draw boundaries around what is exclusive to that relationship. That boundary cannot simply be sex. It would be terrible to be confined to a marriage that is only defined by sex. Rather, one must be clear that only certain people have the right to lean into you emotionally and to demand the right to your presence or company. For men, the ability to lean on a woman emotionally is cross sectioned with his sexuality because sex is after all a service rendered for his well being. Hence it’s not surprising that many men and women who are just friends were also friends with benefits or are often friends ready to receive benefits. A male friend to a married woman is often an accident waiting to happen, so too are female friends of married men. So how should you go about having these friends?
Personally I simply no longer have female friends. That’s the easiest way for me. However, on the odd occasion that I run into female friends of my past I include a wife of mine in any meeting or I speak to them in front of my wives. As a rule, if you can speak to your female friend in front of your wife then you are probably not doing anything inappropriate. However, if you want an exclusive one on one alone with another woman, you are asking for trouble. Similarly, if your wife has male friends from her past, then she should speak to them in front of you, and if she can do that without being awkward about it then the relationship is probably not inappropriate, but if she can’t then it is. Men have instincts about these things just as women and we know our own sex better than the opposite. I have at times stopped men from being friends with my wives when I thought they were inappropriate and at other times I’ve not interfered at all.
Some advice from the Prophet of Islam on the topic is quite practical and easy to follow. He advised that if a strange male and female are alone together the third person is the devil. That’s because as much as people try to deny that they possess a sexuality, it is very easy for sexual thoughts to cross their minds and there’s a chance that they will act on it. If they are pursuing each other, then often this is how the mating ritual begins. If they are not pursuing each other then there simply is no need for them to be alone together. If there’s a need to have a one on one conversation with a person for professional reasons it should be in public or where people can see you. Due to the high incidence of sexual encounters in the work place, corporations have started building offices made of glass so that they can reduce the incidence of accusations of sexual harassment or illicit relations. He also advised that when a man visits the house of his friend and finds only his wife there that he should not enter the house but rather wait outside until his friend arrives or returns later. This is to avoid suspicion should the man find his wife with his friend alone in their house.
Most men who find their wives or partners engaging in a one on one relationship with a man will become suspicious and it will result in a breakdown of the marriage over time. Often, men marry women precisely so they can have that exclusive one on one relationship with her. It means that such men have invested in a woman to have that kind of relationship only for her to give it to other men who are not invested in her. Hence, men in such relationships feel unloved or feel that their women are cheating on them. The truth is the woman doesn’t have to have sex with other men to be cheating. She simply has to make herself emotionally available for other men to think they can have sex with her.
What am I here for?
I’m here to listen to the areas in which you feel you are struggling and make suggestions on how you can improve your relationships based on the information you give me. I can speak to both or all parties who are willing to participate. Sometimes women want me to talk to unwilling husbands, or husbands to unwilling wives. We will have to work out what’s the best way we can go about that! I do one session with two participants if needed. Sometimes I will request to speak to each person individually. I also have extensive experiences with polygyny and I work with men and women who are in that arrangement.
9 thoughts on “Boundaries in Relationships”
Looks like my comment got deleted
It didn’t get deleted. I read the whole exchange.
I struggle to the see the point of this meaningless and false narrative of women. And find it hypocritical that you say “men know their own sex better than the opposite” when you wrote this whole piece trying to narrate what women think/feel. Hahahaha.
I don’t see how this entire blog is about how women think or feel. It is often the case when a strange woman is with another woman’s husband that the wife has a sense of whether the woman has honourable intentions or is trying to seduce the man. You will find men who say, “no there’s really nothing to worry about” when in fact there’s everything to worry about. Similarly, men also have instincts concerning other men and it is often the case where a husband would feel uneasy about one man but not another. When people are in a marriage they must heed each other’s warning and consider each other’s feelings regarding who they socially interact with on a personal level. For example, I once asked a wife of mine whether she was comfortable with me going for walks alone in town with another woman. Had she said that she wasn’t, then I wouldn’t. It’s not about control, it’s about putting your relationship with your spouse first. Similarly, men might feel that a particular man appears to have less than honourable intentions but not mind another man occasionally interacting with his family because they have a level trust between them. However, despite everything, countless marriages have failed because people have failed to take reasonable precautions and or heed the concerns of their spouses. I appreciate your sarcastic remarks. I have never deleted anyone’s comments. It would be boring if everyone agreed with me!
True, you would struggle to see the narrative (and irony) of your words and this whole blog post.
Yes, I would struggle to understand what it is you mean since you haven’t explained yourself very well. I’m glad you see irony, it can be fun.
I don’t understand the defensiveness in your tone. Both men and women were well-addressed in this piece. Are you a woman? I am, and it seems very accurate to me both as a woman, wife, and friend to many, many women, and it’s not bad for men and women to acknowledge the things that present challenges for them in the course of living. It doesn’t have to be taken so personally or offensively. Thinking you’re above the fray of the human condition is perfect recipe for falling prey to it.
People generally only get so defensive when they feel personally attacked by something that hits too close to the truth. I hope everything is okay with you.
I highly agree on all counts. The only thing I would add is that some people will say “yes I would speak to this opposite-sex person in front of my husband or wife” but they’d be careful not to cross the line in that interaction but let private interactions bleed into dangerous and straight-up inappropriate territory. People are not as honest with themselves as they think they are, so I’m not sure it’s super useful to use the marker of whether or not I’d speak to them in front of my spouse. Maybe I am not saying or doing anything inappropriate, but my heart is ramming my rib cage because simply talking to them makes me get butterflies in my stomach. What I FEEL in that case is inappropriate, and can’t be defined by any actions. What do you say about that? No actions taken, but the heart develops an attachment?
Thank you for your comment Fatimah. Speaking to the opposite sex is ordinarily part of life. One cannot account for how people feel when they speak to each other. It would have to be up to the individual to take precautions based on what they know regarding themselves and the opposite sex in general. In the scenario you’ve highlighted, if a man or woman felt that drawn to someone who isn’t their spouse they should avoid having a one on one relationship with that person. If they find that they are uncomfortable meeting with that person even when their spouse is present, they can simply not do so. However, society cannot pander to the possibility that someone might feel something inappropriate because then we might as well say that men and women should not socially interact at all. I find that societies where they maintain segregation between the sexes along strict lines to be hyper sexualised often resulting in both men and women unable to negotiate having to socially interact with each other minus sexual connotations. There has to be a balance between reasonable precautions and going to extremes. From the perspective of Islam, one should consider that if God didn’t want women to socially engage with men minus sexuality becoming an issue, Hijab would not be part of the Islamic code. The idea of covering one’s ornaments is precisely so people, men and women, can socially engage without it having to be around sexuality. Engage with people for their minds not their bodies. Guarding ones modesty and lowering of the gaze precludes that there is something to guard against and hence I believe social interaction in general between the sexes is, in terms of the Qur’an, perfectly normal and acceptable.